UrbanToronto: Helping Torontonians Enjoy Privately Owned, Publicly Accessible Spaces
City creates draft guidelines for the design and principles of POPS.
The development, design, and history of building projects, brought to you by UrbanToronto.ca.
Toronto’s current building boom is intensifying this city in ways both traditional and new. The most obvious result has been the buildings of all types that have replaced parking lots and smaller buildings, and the creation of new parkland in other areas. But there’s another type of space that has emerged, too—one that’s neither totally private like the buildings and fenced yards, nor completely public like open parkland, but something in between, which is being referred to by the acronym POPS, or “Privately Owned Publicly Accessible Spaces” in full. POPS are spaces that are operated and maintained by a private entity but which the public are allowed access to.
In November 2012, city council approved a motion from Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s) requesting a report that would identify all POPS in Toronto and that would develop a strategy to ensure these POPS include appropriate signage indicating they are accessible to the public. The City’s planning department has now created draft guidelines to ensure these spaces are designed appropriately and to inform the public that they are welcome wherever POPS exist. On May 28 at City Hall, these guidelines were presented to interested members of the community and developers.
As land becomes increasingly limited and expensive, the City has looked to developers to provide new open spaces, mainly through Section 37 and Site Plan Agreements. Since 2000, over one million square feet of new open space has been added to Toronto’s downtown as a result of the development process. The City’s own research indicates that despite the increase in the number of people living downtown, these new spaces are often underutilized. The public is generally unaware that these spaces are accessible to them, mainly due to a lack of signage that would exist if the space were operated by the City. Some spaces are also poorly designed and lack seating, leaving the public with the impression that they are unwelcome. Looking to New York and San Francisco, which both require POPS to be clearly marked, the City of Toronto has begun identifying and labelling these spaces as well.
Head over to UrbanToronto.ca to learn more.